Energy & Operating Cost Savings

Preventative Maintenance Adds to Bottom Line

Automation World - As Appeared in the January 2012 issue

January 20, 2012

Planning for equipment reliability rather than accepting equipment failure affects profitability on both sides of the asset equation. Optimum equipment performance increases revenues, while fewer capital upgrades improves return on assets.

Fixing a piece of equipment after it stops working is a failure twice over. The equipment is broken, plus the resulting downtime quickly erodes profitability. Unplanned downtime disrupts production or the delivery of services, which affects the bottom line immediately and the facility's goodwill indefinitely.

Technology has greatly improved manufacturers' ability to efficiently monitor equipment, predict maintenance needs, and improve performance. More powerful data collection and process tools are gathering information about machine statuses, and are delivering gains in maintenance efficiency and dollar savings. Integrating modern, condition-based monitoring systems into existing manufacturing processes is the key, and an emphasis on a distributed approach is enabling companies to achieve major savings in wiring, material and labor costs.

Distributed monitoring and protection systems can be placed alongside machinery and sensors, cutting down on the need for dedicated wiring exclusively for condition monitoring. These modular systems help streamline system design and interface to digital communication networks to economically take measurements at multiple points.

Integration Necessary

A key aspect of a good preventive maintenance system revolves around how integrated it is with the automated control systems that are operating the equipment. The automated control systems have the capability to collect much of the data required by the preventive maintenance software, as well as communicate directly with dedicated monitoring equipment. By integrating the systems, the entire process is seamless and there is no need to manually enter data, which is often how data makes its way into a maintenance system. Systems that require manual data entry can inhibit the program's success from the onset. Control systems integrators can help bridge the gap between the separate systems and ensure the success of a preventive maintenance program.

Integrating maintenance functions with the rest of the enterprise is key for a preventive maintenance strategy and critical for long-term success. Scheduling preventive maintenance to minimize equipment downtime is a complex an activity requiring analysis of the process impact and timing of the downtime.

For example, planning for preventive maintenance, process improvements and predictive replacement shutdowns needs to be done in the context of sales and operations planning. The factory supply chain also will need to be managed to reduce the cost of buying and storing unused materials. This requires rethinking the way maintenance functions are executed in an organization, as well as providing support through robust, integrated systems that unite the data requirements across plantwide systems and processes.

Bottom line, integrating preventive maintenance into enterprise management avoids costly repairs and interruptions and reinforces the facility's reputation for reliable delivery.